Iranians Chant 'Death to the Dictator' as U.S. Sanctions Take Aim at Already Weak Economy

As Trump sanctions snapback, video of labor and social protests go viral on social media with scenes of protesters attacking the Iranian government

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In this picture released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with government officials in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, May 23, 2018
In this picture released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, May 23, 2018Credit: Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP

The Trump administration brought back economic sanctions on Iran Tuesday and expects the measures to have a significant impact on the Iranian economy.

The move comes as Iran has been roiled by mass protests over labor shortages and women's rights. Videos circulating on social media show crowds leaving a soccer match yelling "death to the dictator! Death to Khamenei! Death to Rouhani!" and "Islamic regime must get lost!”

Social media has been a powerful tool in fueling anti-government protests in Iran and is often disrupted by the government in an effort to crackdown on protesters. Other social media videos purport to show women shouting "death to the dictator."

The so-called snapback sanctions target Iran's purchases of U.S. dollars, metals trading and other dealings, coal, industrial-related software and its auto sector.

The officials added that Trump was ready to meet with Iran's leaders at any time in an effort to forge a new agreement with Tehran after President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal in May.

"There is no question that these financial sanctions are going to continue to bring significant financial pressure," one official told reporters on a conference call.

Washington brought back some of the measures against Iran that it suspended under the 2015 deal between world powers and Tehran under which international sanctions were lifted in return for curbs on Iran's nuclear program.

Some of the sanctions came back on Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. EDT (0401 GMT). The United States also plans to re-introduce potentially more damaging sanctions on Iranian oil in November.

The renewed sanctions are part of the broader strategy under Trump aimed at cutting off the Iranian leadership's access to resources.

They are aimed at modifying Iran's behavior not bring about a "regime change" targeting President Hassan Rouhani, the officials added.

The officials said the Iranian government's handling of current social and labor protests in were concerning.

"We are deeply concerned about reports of Iranian regime’s violence against unarmed citizens," one official said. "The United States supports the Iranian people’s right to peacefully protest against corruption and oppression without fear of reprisal," the official added.

Trump "will meet with the Iranian leadership at any time to discuss a real comprehensive deal that will contain their regional ambitions, will end their malign behavior and deny them any path to a nuclear weapon," one official said.

Asked about any possible exemptions to the renewed sanctions, officials said they would examine any requests on a case-by-case basis.

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